Have a Safe Boating Season

No one wants their day of fun on the water to end in tragedy. As summer and the end of the school year inch closer, more and more of us will head out on the water in our boats.

Before we do, we need to make sure we have everything we need to make the trip a safe one.

"First thing is just check your vessel," said Mark Dean, Okatibbee Lake park ranger. "Make sure you have all the safety equipment on board. You're required to have a life jacket on board that fits every passenger on board your vessel. Be familiar with your capacity plate. That's the number of passengers you can have on board your vessel."

Dean also recommends carrying a whistle, air horn, or other device so you can signal for help. Before you even enter the water, it's important not to forget your plugs.

"Some of the things that happen on launches is people forget to put the plug in," Dean said. "That happens. They get in a hurry to go out and go fish or go out and ski and have a good time and they just forget to put that plug back in there."

If you will be having fun with water skis, tubing, or knee boarding, you must remember the rule of three.

"And then if you're pulling near boarders or skiers, Mississippi law says it takes three to do that act," said Dean. "You have to have the operator, the driver of the vessel, you need an observer in the back watching the skier or the knee boarder. So whether you're on a three passenger jet ski or a ski boat or runabout boat, it takes three to pull a tube, knee board, or ski."

Before you head out, don't forget your boat registration card and a fire extinguisher, just in case.

The Boating Safety Resource Center says there are about 4600 boating accidents every year in the U.S., with more than 600 deaths, 3,000 injuries, and about $35 million worth of property damage.

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